Just recently after having marinated in the Gospel all day… and having my brains knocked out by a ton of 3rd and 4th graders at church… I had an epiphany on the drive home… or something of the sort.
I think the reason that some of us are so self-righteous (with me leading the way)… and think that we can somehow secure a good relationship with God through works (this after being saved)… whether through reading our Bible, praying, or serving, etc… is because of two things.
1) We have left the Gospel.
We for some reason think that once we are saved, we leave the Gospel and move on to something better. We think that the Gospel is for people who do not know Christ… and us, who are “mature” in Christ, have something better. Wrong.
We have bought into the LIE that we can do good to keep God’s favor. We know we can’t do to obtain… but we think we can do to keep. We do NOT do good to obtain or to keep! We already have favor through Christ and His Gospel. No amount of good deeds will change that.
…Now to my “epiphany”… or something like that…
2) Some of us have been Christians for so long that we have forgotten what it was like to be alive to sin and dead to God. We have forgotten the helplessness of never having the power to defeat sin, much less recognize sin for sin.
As for me… Saved at 7. Christian for 13 years now. I have been a Christian for the majority of my cognizant life. Honestly… I don’t know much of what being alive to sin and dead to God feels like. I don’t know much of how it feels to be captive to sin and not be able to defeat it. For the majority of my life I only know living in the power of Christ. Therefore, if my line of thinking is correct… I have come to a point where I unknowingly believed that I was the one doing the work of growing to become more like Christ… rather than Christ himself doing the work. My line of thinking was obviously wrong… I apparently thought that it was me doing the change… NOPE. It is not my application of the Bible or anything else that does anything. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that ultimately changes me through the application of His word. Without His power… I can do nothing.
Therefore: I become prideful. Because… I think that it has been my own work that has grown me… That has made me more like Christ.
But the Bible clearly disagrees with my natural inclination to give myself the credit for change. The credit for growth… ALL OF THE CREDIT… belongs to God ALONE.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 – God has it under control. He will carry it out. Philippians 1:6 – He who started it will finish it. Galatians 3:1-3 – What was started by the Spirit will be finished by the Spirit; NOT the flesh. Romans 6:17-19 – Thanks be to God that He set us free from sin and led us into slavery to righteousness which leads to sanctification. Romans 16:25 – we are strengthened by the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 – We may do work… plant… water… HOWEVER God grows. Therefore we are nothing. He is everything. 1 Corinthians 6:11 – we are washed, justified, and sanctified in Christ BY the Spirit of God.*
I already here the questions rumbling… This view of God takes us out of the picture… it makes us not responsible… etc.
So, do I believe in personal responsibility? Of course! I believe obedience is God’s chosen plan to carry out sanctification. However, I believe God is the one who enables and enacts obedience in us.
So how does this work out practically? I have no idea. All I know is that God will finish what he started.
And yes… I understand that this is probably not a complete thought… not a full understanding… but this is where I am at right now… processing through… trying to understand the greatness of God.
*All statements from Scripture are my own paraphrase and summary of the text. Click the link to see the full and true text.